Wow. Of all the days to start a blog dedicated to Atlanta sports futility, and a man who helped define it puts himself at the center of a tragedy:
Leyritz, of course, penned one of the most infamous chapters in Atlanta sports history. Not only did he tie a game that surely had the Braves headed to a 3-1 lead in the 1996 World Series, but he also squelched the city’s one and only chance at a sports dynasty.
While I certainly don’t want to make light of a very sad situation, this story just reminded me of what it is to be an Atlanta sports fan. I read the name Leyritz, and shuddered. His name, even now, is always preceeded by “World Series Hero”, much like John Rocker’s is always proceeded by “Who made racially insensitive remarks in a 1999 Sports Illustrated Article.”
More pertinent to the subject line in this article, many folks trace the demise of Mark Wohlers’ career back to that ill-fated slider he hung to Leyrtiz just over 11 years ago. He then suffered a mental breakdown that outstrips all of the psychoses of Dan Kolb, John Rocker, and Chris “The Grim” Reitsma, combined.
A messy divorce was thrown into the mix for Wohlers, just to make it an extra-strength career implosion. He may have pitched for 7 more seasons in the Majors, but 1996 was the beginning of the end. He saved 39 games that year, only to see his save numbers go down the next 3 seasons, nestling at a tidy O in 1999.
Nonetheless, this story today reminds us all that whether you’re a hero or a goat on the field of play, the decisions you make off of it are a much better indicator of who you really are.
Great – here I start an ode to Atlanta’s low standing in the realm of pro sports, and I have to go and get preachy on my first real post!
I promise – more humorous falls from grace and false hope delivered by Ted Turner, Rankin Smith (Jr. and Sr. versions), Arthur Blank, etc. in the near future!